Increasing demand for Chinese herbal medicines (CHM) has led to expanding supply chains.
Additionally, the incidence of CHM adverse events including fatalities has necessitated increased
compliance.  As regulators focus safety and suppliers on volume, a risk of divergence between
these presents with increasing complexity.
To explore and evaluate factors which render CHM supply chains particularly complex and thus
Literature search using keywords; “Chinese herbal medicine, complexity, problems, toxicity and
supply chain” (11th April 2018), yielded 325 relevant publications. 302 were excluded, 23 were
included. The model of A Booker-and M Heinrich on value chains was used in the analysis. 
Computer-aided thematic generation using (NVivo 11). Coding and thematic analysis with of Braun and
Clark methodology. 
Results and Discussion:
Findings show that 9 complexity factors impact CHM supply chains which can be represented by three
major themes; human, product and conceptual complexity. They contribute 21, 28 and 51% of the
complexity factors respectively.
Most complexity in CHM supply chains is contributed by conceptual factors (such as medicinal
material status, regulation and value chain elements), followed by product and human complexity
aspects. There is a need to further explore the relationship between conceptual complexity and
the risk to product quality and safety.